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Teens and Travel: It Can Be Done and It Can Be Fun

We all know that travel with a teenager is much different than travel with a toddler. Teenagers are more difficult to please and have opinions on everything from the best music to the ugliest color and everything in between. So how do you entice someone that “knows everything” to want to go on the annual family vacation? Below are some tips.

Ask For Their Input: Asking a teen to help plan the trip will make them feel more involved and in control. When you begin planning your trip, sit down with your teen and discuss what kind of vacation each person wants. Finding a vacation destination that will please the most discerning teen is very possible if your teen is involved with the planning in its infancy.

Skip Negotiations: You could spend hours and days negotiating with your teen and never get his buy in on the family vacation. A better approach would be to let your teen pick one or two activities he prefers, and in exchange, he has to get on board with the rest of the family’s itinerary.

Give Your Teen Space: To keep the cost down, it might be tempting to put your teen in the same room as their younger siblings in a vacation home, but this could spoil the trip with endless nagging of “he said/she said” or echoes of “get out” hour on the hour. Giving your teen her own room will not only make her feel more like the adult she wants to be, but also give you room to leverage with her in areas her cooperation is much needed.

Plug In: You can learn so much about a teen from their playlist. Take turn picking the songs on long trips. Tuning in to the same music on the car speakers means no one is tuned out with ear buds. It also makes for great conversation as your teen may learn a thing or two about your taste in music. She may be pleasantly surprised to learn that, just as she does today, you also sang your heart out to Eagle’s “Hotel California.”

Un-Plug: Chose a time of day, or event where all electronics are turned off to allow for family bonding. Your teen will complain at first when he is disconnected from breakfast to dinner, but once your day becomes alive, he will have too much fun to remember what color his iphone is.

Give Them A Budget $$$: On vacation, souvenirs and other purchases to keep your teen happy can quickly add up-and just as quickly end up under their beds. Set a budget in advance and give your teen the choice of spending their money anyway they want. This will make them feel like they are in control, thus less likely to spend all of it in one place. Besides, this is the perfect time to instill good spending habits and teach life skill of budgeting.

Give Them Responsibilities: At first, your teen may not want to take on any responsibility, but the truth is, they are growing into adults and are old enough to help. Ask your teen to research restaurant choices as you are busy with the younger siblings. If they're old enough, ask them to drive a part of your road trip. The responsibility will give your teen something to do before they get bored. Plus, it'll make them feel like more of an adult.

Choose Your Activities Wisely: If you only visit Disneyland and Lego Land, they may never take another family vacation with you. Instead, spread out park visits with lazy days at the beach soaking in the California sun. Perhaps they are adventurous and would enjoy surfing lessons in world famous Huntington Beach or sailing lessons in beautiful Newport Beach. Regardless of weather, a day of hiking in beautiful picturesque Laguna Beach might just do the trick. A daytrip to Hollywood, Los Angeles is always a hit with teens. Take a pose with Batman or Michael Jackson at the Hollywood Walk of Fame or explore the world’s most unusual, unbelievable and genuine artifacts at Ripley’s Believe It or Not. For adrenaline junkies, Magic Mountain is the perfect place – but be sure to leave your stomach behind. The point is - letting your teen choose how to spend non-Disney days is the honey that lures your teen to ride The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh!

Agree To Indulge Them Just Once: Teens love the water, but there is one thing they love even more, watersports. Jet skis and parasailing are teen favorites, but unfortunately they are also budget busters. Don’t be too quick to say ‘no’. Instead, compromise on one to keep their excitement up and plan it toward the end of the trip-that way they have something to look forward to the entire time.

Let Them Catch Their Zzz’s: Wake them up early to hit the local diner for breakfast every morning may start an all-out war. Teens love to sleep, so why not let them once or twice during your trip. It might be just what they need to keep their smiles from turning upside down.

Have Lots Of Snacks Handy: Often times, parents worry about the little ones getting hungry quickly while traveling. The truth is teens are the ones who will remain calm and collected if their stomachs are full. Bring a few protein bars, bags of trail mix and maybe a few sweet treats everywhere you go-on the plane or in the car, at the theme parks, or at the beach. You're 13-year-old will thank you.

+ One: Allowing your teen to invite a friend on the family trip can be just the perfect way to keep them from getting bored. Besides, since the friend will be on his or her best behavior around you, this will easily rub off on your teen. As for accommodations, there won’t be any added cost since your teen will share a room with their friend in the vacation home. Also, don’t feel as though you have to pay for the friend’s activities on the trip. Most parents are more than willing to pay their kid’s way, especially since this gives them a short break from their teen. Discuss all costs, especially costly trips like Disneyland and other parks, in advance with the friend’s parents to avoid any misunderstanding during and after your trip.

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